The Minnesota Wild were at the bottom of the league in many offensive categories last year, and a big part of that was their anemic power play, so I wanted to go inside the numbers to take a look at Minnesota’s production on the man advantage.
The Wild ended up with the fourth-worst power-play percentage in the NHL last year at just 15.1% overall. Only the Montreal Canadiens (14.3%), Phoenix Coyotes (13.6%), and Dallas Stars (13.5%) were lower. At home, the Wild converted 22 of their 122 opportunities, good for 18%, which is just actually slightly above-average (17.6%),but on the road the club was an NHL-worst 12.5% (17 of 136).
Dany Heatley led the team in power play scoring with (8+11=19), tallying a third of his 24 goals and 36% of his total points on the man advantage. Mikko Koivu wasn’t that far behind with (2+13=15) despite playing only 55 games. Kyle Brodziak chipped in with (5+6=11) on the blue line and Jared Spurgeon scored twice and had ten helpers on the power play.
New additions Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be expected to bolster the Wild’s power play output, but Parise did most of his damage at even strength last year with (21+27=48) at 5 on 5 and (7+7=14) at 5 on 4. Suter distributed the puck nicely in Nashville last year with (3+22=25) on the advantage and (3+16=19) at even strength. If they can all stay healthy–and sadly that’s a pretty big if based on what we’ve seen in recent years–a top unit of Koivu, Parise, Heatley, Bouchard and Suter could really do some damage. That would leave a second unit of perhaps Cullen, Spurgeon, Brodziak, Setoguchi and Clutterbuck–not a bad-looking group.
As a final thought, the Wild had 258 power play opportunities last year, which was 22nd in the league. With the talent they could be sending onto the man advantage, I would like to see the team play a bit more aggressively and try to draw some more penalties. They were successful at the beginning of last year with a aggressive forecheck, and perhaps a similar strategy this season, along with some better luck with injuries, could lead to more power play opportunities and more goals.